This week’s WWE Smackdown featured Ronda Rousey in action against Sonya Deville, plus The Usos defended the SD Tag Team Titles against the Viking Raiders and Sami Zayn put the Intercontinental Title on the line against Ricochet.
It’s rare for WWE to promote three matches ahead of time like that. I like that they did it, but it’s just not that common these days.
The show started with some backstage promos from key people on this episode. Paul Heyman talked about how you would have a chance to acknowledge Roman Reigns. Ronda Rousey said her first match on Smackdown will be one to remember. Sonya Deville said it will be Ronda’s first-ever loss on Smackdown because nothing can compete with the power of authority. The Viking Raiders did a promo about how The Usos play games, but they don’t play games because they raid. They said they’ll rip the Smackdown Tag Team Titles from whatever is left of The Usos. The Usos showed a lot of confidence talking about how The Viking Raiders can’t beat them because The Usos are “The Ones.” Ricochet spoke about all of the things that Sami Zayn is, but after tonight they won’t call him the Intercontinental Champion. Sami Zayn was right by the curtain doing a promo saying he has many monikers, and Ricochet will find out why Sami is the master strategist. Sami said that they will be calling him the greatest Intercontinental Champion in history.
Analysis: I like that opening. It’s a Saturday Night’s Main Event style beginning.
Sami Zayn made his entrance for his IC Title defense. The commentary team was Michael Cole and Pat McAfee as usual. They showed Sami Zayn winning the IC Title two weeks ago and then last Friday when Johnny Knoxville challenged Sami to a match. Sami attacked Johnny with punches along with the Helluva Kick two times to the face. Ricochet entered for the match against Zayn.
Intercontinental Championship: Sami Zayn vs. Ricochet
Ricochet got a rollup pin as he sat on top for a two count. That was very close. Ricochet hit a dropkick. Zayn came back with a clothesline to slow the match down to give him control. Zayn with a chinlock, Ricochet with a kick to the chest and an enziguri kick to the head. Zayn to the apron, Ricochet hit him with a superkick. Ricochet charged, Zayn blocked the kick and Zayn gave Ricochet a Dragon Suplex on the ring apron! Ouch. Ricochet rolled to the floor leading to a break.
Zayn was in control as he went to the turnbuckle, Ricochet grabbed the foot and then Ricochet jumped up with a hurricanrana for a two count. Ricochet to the apron, he tried a move off the top, Zayn caught him and hit a sitout Powerbomb for two. That was a rough landing high on the shoulder/neck of Ricochet, but he appeared to be okay. Zayn went for a slam, Ricochet fought back with elbows and Ricochet countered a Zayn move into a rollup sitting on top for two. Ricochet with a trip leading to a standing moonsault for two. Ricochet with a superkick that knocked Zayn out of the ring. Ricochet hit an impressive handspring into a backflip over the top onto Zayn on the floor. Ricochet went up top, Zayn shoved him and Ricochet bounced off the apron to the floor. Zayn left the ring on the side where the announcers were and then the music of Jackass star Johnny Knoxville. When Johnny was on the apron, Zayn tried to strike him, so Johnny dropped to the floor. When Sami turned around, Ricochet hit an impressive hurricanrana for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW Intercontinental Champion: Ricochet
Analysis: ***1/4 A good match with Ricochet getting multiple nearfalls early in the match and then he got the win after the distraction from Knoxville. The ending was the kind of thing that I hate because it’s music playing to distract a guy and then Knoxville went out there to distract as well, but I understand why they did it because it fits the story for the Zayn/Knoxville feud. Ricochet capitalizing to win is a good thing.
Zayn was frustrated about the loss. There was no attack by Zayn on Knoxville because he went to the back. Zayn didn’t attack Ricochet either. Ricochet celebrated with the IC Title around ringside. Cool moment for him.
Analysis: I’m genuinely happy for Ricochet. They haven’t used him well enough in the last year or so. I’m glad he’s holding a title going into WrestleMania.
The commentary team was shown on camera with Pat McAfee talking about his legendary moment on his Pat McAfee Show with Vince McMahon as the guest on Thursday on the show on Youtube. A clip was shown of Vince announcing that he’ll induct The Undertaker in the WWE Hall of Fame. Vince also asked Pat if he wanted to be in a match at WrestleMania against an unnamed opponent. Pat said, “it would be a dream” and eventually said yes.
They showed Mr. McMahon’s offense backstage because he might be coming up next.
They showed replays of Ricochet winning the IC Title from Zayn due to Knoxville’s distraction.
Sami Zayn was freaking out in the backstage area. He was tossing over tables, throwing chairs and yelling. Zayn complained about how the camera was following him while he was humiliated. Zayn said that Knoxville is following him everywhere, even on Instagram in his comments and he wanted Knoxville to follow him to Dallas because Sami will see him at WrestleMania.
Analysis: There’s the WrestleMania challenge from Zayn towards Knoxville that was expected.
Austin Theory made his entrance doing a promo introducing us. Theory noted he competes on Monday Night Raw and he’s the protégé of WWE Chairman Mr. Vince McMahon. Theory said that wherever Mr. McMahon is there, so wherever Vince goes, Theory goes. Theory addressed McAfee saying that Mr. McMahon set up Pat. Theory said that you probably think Mr. McMahon likes McAfee, but he does everything for a reason. Theory said that Vince knows McAfee is a loudmouth and everybody wants to hear him shut up. Theory wondered what will Pat do when his mouth is wired shut and he’s sipping through a straw? Theory left the ring to get in McAfee’s face. Theory told McAfee that he was his opponent at WrestleMania and he’ll beat McAfee to a pulp. Theory slapped McAfee in the face to knock his headset off. Theory left while taking a selfie on the other side of the ring. After Theory left, Pat was ranting about how he didn’t know that guy and he was yelling about it. Pat was yelling about how he was embarrassed in front of Jimmy Butler (of the NBA’s Miami Heat), but Jimmy wasn’t there so Pat had to improvise saying Jimmy went to the bathroom. That was funny.
Analysis: That’s cool with me. I had my doubts about the “Vince will wrestle” rumors. Smart move not having Vince wrestle at 76 years old. Pat vs. Theory is fine with me. Pat did well in his two NXT matches with Adam Cole in singles and then the WarGames match. I think Pat will train a lot, he’ll be ready to go and they are both athletic guys that should do pretty well since they have a month to prepare for it. It was probably going to be Shane McMahon in that spot against Theory, but they went with McAfee instead after deciding not to use Shane. This is better in the long run since the fans really like McAfee and will support him.
Naomi made her entrance with Sasha Banks. They were feeling the glow. Naomi’s in singles action after a break.
Carmella entered with Queen Zelina Vega and they are the Women’s Tag Team Titles. They defend those titles against Naomi & Sasha Banks on WrestleMania Sunday.
Carmella (w/Queen Zelina Vega) vs. Naomi (w/Sasha Banks)
Carmella put on her mask to get some heat. Naomi with a kick, then to the ropes and Carmella took her down with a slam. Naomi hit a jawbreaker followed by a jumping kick to the face. Naomi missed a move in the corner when Carmella moved, Vega tried a cheap attack and Banks took her down. Banks with a double knee attack on Vega on the floor. Naomi with a kick on Carmella and Naomi hit a split-legged moonsault off the ropes for the pinfall win after about three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Naomi
Analysis: 3/4* Easy win for Naomi against Carmella to build momentum going to WrestleMania. Basic stuff here. Naomi’s athletic moves looked good.
Post match, Naomi and Banks celebrated the win. They showed Natalya watching a TV backstage.
Analysis: I assume they showed Natalya for a reason. My guess is because they are going to have multiple women’s teams in that Women’s Tag Team Title match at WrestleMania, so it’s just a matter of how they get there.
They showed Happy Corbin, Madcap Moss and some friends (indy wrestlers) playing poker backstage. Corbin bragged about his WrestleMania success by winning the Andre the Giant Battle Royal and he also beat Kurt Angle in Kurt’s retirement match. Corbin said he’s on the biggest hot streak of his career as he ripped on his WrestleMania opponent Drew McIntyre. Madcap Moss did a bad impression of Drew.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance for singles action.
A video was shown of Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs driving a Toyota Tundra while going hunting in what was an ad for Toyota.
Drew McIntyre was ready for his match. Drew McIntyre will face Happy Corbin on WrestleMania Saturday. Corbin, Moss and friends were shown watching Drew on the TV.
Drew McIntyre vs. Jinder Mahal (w/Shanky)
Drew got a shoulder tackle. Mahal slowed him down with a chinlock, Drew came back with an overhead suplex and a belly-to-belly suplex across the ring. Drew hit a neckbreaker followed up a kip-up. Shank on the apron, so Drew sent him into the ring post. Mahal went for The Khallas, Drew powered out of it and hit the Glasgow Kiss headbutt. Drew did the 3-2-1 countdown for the Claymore Kick to pin Mahal in two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Drew McIntyre
Analysis: 1/2* A dominant win for McIntyre as expected. Mahal is rarely on TV these days. The Claymore Kick is still one of the best finishers in WWE.
Drew was interviewed by Kayla Braxton saying he didn’t give a damn about what Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss think. Drew said nobody likes them. Drew asked Miami who wants to gouge their eyes out whenever they are on screen. The fans raised their hands and so did Kayla. Drew said that Baron might be undefeated as Happy Corbin, but at WrestleMania, Drew is going to take him out. Drew celebrated with Angela the sword.
Analysis: Good promo from Drew. I hope Drew beats Corbin easily at WrestleMania. I would have liked to see Drew in a bigger match at WrestleMania, but it is what it is now. Hopefully Drew gets a main event push after WrestleMania takes place.
They showed the Corbin-Moss poker game, Moss had a bad joke and nobody laughed because they were scared a bit after what Drew said.
Coming up is a look back at the Brock Lesnar-Roman Reigns rivalry.
This Monday on Raw is the fallout after Edge’s attack on AJ Styles and a triple threat for the Raw Tag Team Titles: Alpha Academy vs. RK-Bro vs. Kevin Owens & Seth Rollins. That should be a very good title match.
A video package aired showing highlights of WWE Champion Brock Lesnar and Universal Champion Roman Reigns signing the contract for the Champion vs. Champion Unification Match at WrestleMania.
Rick Boogs had his electric guitar by the entrance area doing a promo to fire up the crowd. Boogs introduced Shinsuke Nakamura for a match and McAfee was dancing on the commentary table. During the guitar playing, Nakamura/Boogs were attacked by the Smackdown Tag Team Champions The Usos from behind. The Usos laid them out with superkicks. Referees checked on Boogs and Nakamura.
Analysis: What were Boogs/Nakamura making their entrance for? It was never said. It’s not like WWE is going to answer that question for us. There was likely a reason for that attack. It’s certainly possible they are going with Usos vs. Boogs/Nakamura at WrestleMania and maybe others involved as well.
Let’s Hear from Roman Reigns and The Bloodline
Roman Reigns made his entrance as the Universal Champion with the “Wise Man” Special Counsel Paul Heyman and The Usos by his side. Reigns and The Bloodline made their way down to the ring after taking a few minutes to get there. There were actually some “Roman” chants before the Tribal Chief spoke.
Reigns: “Miami…acknowledge me!” That led to boos mostly with some cheers I’m sure. Reigns said tomorrow, he and Lesnar defend their titles at Madison Square Garden. Reigns said he’ll smash whoever steps up and sends them to the back of the line just like he’s done for the last year and a half. Reigns said that not all of us want to see Brock with that title or even make it to WrestleMania. Reigns said he wanted Brock to make it to WrestleMania and hand deliver the WWE Championship to his Tribal Chief. Reigns asked “Wise Man” about the line he always says. Heyman: “It’s not a prediction, it’s a spoiler.” Reigns asked if he should give us a spoiler tonight. Reigns said he’s like Babe Ruth calling his shot because he delivers every single time. Reigns said last year’s WrestleMania, a week before he said he would stack them and pin them, so that’s what he did. Reigns said he’ll call his shot again. Reigns: “At WrestleMania, in the biggest main event of all time, he’s going to smash Brock Lesnar, he’s going to pin Brock Lesnar, he’s going to stand over Brock Lesnar and with about $5 million worth of fireworks going off, he’s going to hold the WWE Championship and Universal Championship over his head.” Reigns said that Brock is going to have no choice but to acknowledge him. Reigns kept yelling “acknowledge me” repeatedly. Reigns: “At WrestleMania, Brock Lesnar will acknowledge me.”
Analysis: That was good. I enjoyed that promo. There’s a lot of praise we can give Roman Reigns over the last year and a half, especially in terms of great matches. However, I have to point out that I really like the confidence he shows in his promos. He does such a great job with this character. Promos were a weakness for him earlier in his career. Not anymore. Work hard. Get better. I’ll probably pick Reigns to win at WrestleMania, but it’s not a lock.
Reigns left while The Usos stayed in the ring for their title match.
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) vs. The Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar)
The Usos have been champions for 229 days. Erik sent both Usos out of the ring and Ivar hit a dive off the apron onto both Usos. Back in the ring, Erik hit a jumping kick. Ivar went up top and hit a splash on Jimmy for a two count. The VR boys went for their tag team finishers, but Jey saved Jimmy from it. The Usos hit a double spinebuster on Erik. Jimmy tossed Erik out of the ring while Jey tagged in and Jey gave Erick an uppercut punch. Jey whipped Erik into the ring post. The Usos tossed Erick over the barricade at ringside as the fans booed with The Usos posing. That led to a break.
The match continued with the Viking Raiders in control with Ivar hitting a springboard clothesline while Erik held Jey and that led to a two count. Jey broke free, Jimmy got the tag, Jey knocked Ivar off the apron, Erik punched Jey and legal man Jimmy got a superkick. Jimmy went up top for an Uso Splash, Erik got the knees up and VR hit the Viking Experience powerslam for a two count with Jey saving his brother Jimmy at the very last moment. Erik tagged in against Jey, but Jimmy managed to send Ivar over the top to the floor. Erik with a knee, Jey with a superkick, Jimmy with a superkick while on the apron and Jey got a rollup for two that Erik countered into his own cover for a two count. The Usos hit the 1D (One and Done?) that was like the 3D that has been renamed for the pinfall win after ten minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso)
Analysis: ***1/4 A very good match as usual for The Usos, who always have a strong showing when they get around 10 minutes like this match was. I don’t think anybody believed that VR was going to win, but they did get a couple of believable nearfalls and they are a team with a lot of credibility. I like The Usos using the 1D as a finisher along with their top rope splash combo as well. It’s good to have multiple finishers.
They showed Big E driving an ATV around backstage with Kofi Kingston on the back of it.
Big E entered for a match on the ATV with Kofi joining him.
A video aired letting us know it was 29 days until WrestleMania. Four more weeks, my friends. Stupendous!
Sheamus entered with his buddy Ridge Holland for this singles match. They showed last week on Smackdown when the two teams exchanged words.
Ridge Holland hit Kofi with a steel chair from behind. Holland used the chair to beat up the ATV at ringside as well. Sheamus jumped Big E in the ring and the left on the ATV with Holland. No match.
Analysis: It looks like that could be a potential tag team feud leading to a WrestleMania match although it could be a TV feud. I don’t know what else these guys would do other than a multi-team tag team match for the titles. There are still four weeks to figure it out.
A video aired about The Undertaker being inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame on Friday, April 1 after Smackdown in Dallas.
They showed a clip from moments ago when Sheamus and Ridge Holland destroyed Big E’s ATV with sledgehammers.
Ricochet winning the IC Title was shown earlier in the night thanks to Johnny Knoxville distracting Sami Zayn and Ricochet capitalized to win the title. Zayn challenged Knoxville to a match at WrestleMania.
Johnny Knoxville was interviewed by Kayla Braxton. Johnny said Sami was a strange, sad little man. Johnny said Sami was the Intercontinental Chump. Johnny talked about how he’s put his body through a lot in his life and he said he’s going to see him at WrestleMania. Knoxville led a “Sami Sucks” chant.
Analysis: It’s on for WrestleMania. I hope Zayn wins, but they may want Knoxville to win since he’s the face like Bad Bunny last year. I just hope it’s decent.
They showed a scene of Happy Corbin’s locker room where they were playing darts. Drew McIntyre appeared with Angela the sword that he used to press the sword against the dart board. Corbin ran away while Drew smirked.
A video aired about Ronda Rousey’s WWE comeback earlier this year with Ronda winning the Royal Rumble in January. Ronda said she wanted to be the first woman to tap out Charlotte Flair. Charlotte Flair ended up getting a cheap attack on Ronda last week. Sonya Deville tried to attack some more, so Ronda took her down. Adam Pearce put Sonya in the match this week with Ronda saying she’ll show her what happens when authority figures step out of line.
Sonya Deville made her entrance for the main event.
Next week on Smackdown: Kofi Kingston & Big E vs. Sheamus & Ridge Holland. Also, Sasha Banks vs. Queen Zelina Vega.
Ronda Rousey was introduced with a big entrance about being the Royal Rumble winner, her first Smackdown match and challenging Charlotte Flair for the SD Women’s Title on the first night of WrestleMania. Speaking of Charlotte Flair, she made her entrance before the match began.
Ronda Rousey vs. Sonya Deville
There were only a few minutes left in the show. Rousey had a brace on the right knee to sell a recent injury to the knee. Rousey went for a takedown on the arm, Charlotte got up the apron to distract and Sonya did a chop block to the back of the right leg. Charlotte was on commentary. Sonya did a snapmare followed by a hair pull and a running knee. Charlotte said she was not concerned about Rousey at WrestleMania. Sonya applied a chinlock to ground Rousey, then Ronda got back up and punched her a few times. Rousey choked Sonya using her legs to choke Sonya against the ropes. Rousey with a knee smash and a jumping knee attack. Rousey with punches to the body, Rousey with three armdrag takedowns. Rousey with the Piper’s Pit slam. Rousey applied the armbar on the left arm with Sonya tapping out after three minutes.
Winner by submission: Ronda Rousey
Analysis: *1/2 Easy win for Rousey as expected. Short and sweet, but it was what it needed to be. Deville got some basic offense after a distraction by Flair. It’s not like anybody really thought Deville had a chance to win here.
Post match, Rousey celebrated in the ring while staring at Flair, who had the Smackdown Women’s Title with her. Flair was not in ring attire as she walked in with black leather pants and high heels. Flair went into the ring, Rousey took flair down easily and Rousey applied an Ankle Lock submission. Flair was screaming in pain and Flair tapped out. Rousey let go while Flair was down at ringside. Rousey celebrated in the ring, pointed at the WrestleMania sign a bit and Ronda’s music played. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: That was a way to show that Rousey has more than just an armbar submission. Rousey can slap on the Ankle Lock to beat Flair as well. I think Rousey beating Flair at WrestleMania is very likely.
Three Stars of the Show
- The Usos
- Sami Zayn
7 out of 10
Last week: 6.5
I thought it was a good show. A nice mix of in-ring action plus promos that were used to build new WrestleMania matches while also continuing to build up other matches we already knew about. Ricochet beating Sami Zayn wasn’t something I expected, but I have no problem with it because I’m happy for Ricochet winning some gold. Usos beat Viking Raiders clean in a competitive match. Some other matches were shorter with Ronda Rousey, Naomi and Drew McIntyre picking up wins to “build momentum” as WWE loves to say.
The WrestleMania match between Pat McAfee and Austin Theory was set up in a simple way. As I wrote in the review, I’m glad it’s Theory rather than Vince McMahon in that match.
The next WWE Premium Live Event is WrestleMania 38 from Dallas, Texas on Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3. Here’s the lineup so far:
Winner Take All – Title vs. Title: Universal Champion Roman Reigns vs. WWE Champion Brock Lesnar (Sunday)
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Ronda Rousey (Saturday)
Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Bianca Belair (Saturday)
Edge vs. AJ Styles
Rey & Dominik Mysterio vs. The Miz & Logan Paul (Saturday)
Women’s Tag Team Championships: Carmella & Zelina Vega (c) vs. Sasha Banks & Naomi (Sunday)
Drew McIntyre vs. Happy Corbin (Saturday)
Sami Zayn vs. Johnny Knoxville (Sunday)
Pat McAfee vs. Austin Theory
WrestleMania 38 is a two-night event steaming LIVE on Saturday, April 2, and Sunday, April 3, beginning at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Peacock in the United States and on WWE Network everywhere else.
Thanks for reading. Please check out my reviews of every WWE PPV ever listed in order. Go Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.